Directed by Terry George
Written by Terry George & Kenneth Lonergan
Produced by Dean Leavitt, Gina Resnick, Nick Wechsler, & A. Kitman Ho
Distributed by Focus Features
Art Direction by Jeannine Claudia Oppewall
Set Decoration by Gretchen Rau & Leslie E. Rollins
Cinematography by Edward Lachman
Costumes by Catherine George
Editing by Jill Bilcock
Music by Thomas Newman
John Cusack as Richard Polk
Jennifer Ehle as Catherine Polk
Meryl Streep as Vivian Broady
Jake Thomas as Aaron Polk
Willem Dafoe as Joseph Friedman
Tagline: "One murder will change the lives of three people who live on this street"
Synopsis: The Polks are a wealthy, middle class family living in the city of Rochester , New Hampshire . Richard Polk is an attorney working for one of the best law firms in the state, and his wife Catherine is a stay-at-home mom. Her mother Vivian lives with them, and the two have a teenage son named Aaron. The family lives in a quiet, two-story house on Pine Terrace, and their next door neighbor happens to be their pastor, the Rev. Joseph Friedman. Joseph is a single man who lives by the Bible, except that the only thing he doesn’t follow is the commandment of coveting thy neighbor. Joseph is jealous of Richard’s lifestyle, and he believes that the only way to destroy his life is by killing someone dear to him and the family.
One Sunday night in October, Aaron was coming home from a party up the road. As soon as gets close to his house, Joseph pops out and brutally kills him with a knife. He leaves the body lying on the ground and quickly runs into his house to wash up, rid the evidence, and pray for forgiveness. About an hour later, the Polks received news from the police that their son was murdered. This devastates the family greatly, and things begin to change around their lifestyle. The next day, as Catherine prepares breakfast, Richard tells her that he’s going to the police station every day to help them find his son’s murderer. She begs him not to; for he needs to let them do their job and he must do his own. He refuses to, and walks out of the house. During the week, Richard has been going to police station day and night while Catherine sits at home. She grows lonely without him, and she stops working around the house. Her mother tries to help her, but Catherine doesn’t mind her at all. One day while strolling in the backyard, Catherine sees Joseph sitting on his bench reading. She calls him over for a talk, and he invites her into his home. During the visit he grows fond of Catherine, knowing that the Polk family’s life is falling, and she does too, and the two begin an affair. When Richard came home that night, Catherine was behaving all differently to him, and this concerns him a lot. He asked Vivian to watch her to make sure she’s well and all and she agree to do so.
That morning as Richard leaves, he runs into Joseph, and Joseph gives his condolences to Richard and walks on home. Catherine looks out the window and sees Richard leaving, and she quickly goes to Joseph’s house, with Vivian following behind quietly. She stays outside, and when she looks through a window she sees Catherine and Joseph having sex. She leaves the yard and sees Richard coming back to the house. Meanwhile, Joseph leaves Catherine in the living room while he’s in the bathroom, and she begins to wonder throughout the entire house all happily. As she enters his room she walks around until she came across a bloody shirt in the drawer and a knife on the nightstand. She then realizes that Joseph had killed her son, and while leaving the room Joseph appears at the door and stops her. Seeing the shirt in her hand, he takes her downstairs and tries to hold her down, but Richard busts through the door. He fights with Joseph until Catherine kills him with the knife. He falls to ground and slowly dies.
That evening, the three sit in the dining room while the police clean up Joseph’s house. Richard tells them that Joseph was indeed the murderer and that now he’s dead he’ll no longer harm them. Catherine asked Richard for forgiveness and he does forgive her, and the three would visit Aaron’s grave every weekend and would always return to their home quietly on Pine Terrace.
What the Press would say:
'Pine Terrace' is the latest film from director Terry George and it’s by far his most brilliant work and is the best film to ever brace the big screen. Terry George directs this wonderful drama film about a New Hampshire family’s aftermath when the couple’s son was brutally murdered by their minister. The script that both George and Lonergan come up with is well-written, and it is perfectly woven together by the marvelous acting of its cast and characters. The lead performances of John Cusack and Jennifer Ehle create this amazing duo of actors, and their teamwork is some of the best since such film duos like Foster & Hopkins, Nicholson & Fletcher, Finch & Dunaway, Voight & Fonda, Nicholson & Hunt, and even Gable & Colbert.
John Cusack plays Richard Polk, a father who was determined to find his deceased son’s murderer. He constantly leaves his home to help the police officers, but he just ends up as interference to the police until they draw closer to Aaron’s killer. His performance ranks among the finest, and his gut-wrenching scene is where he violently shakes one of the police officers, telling him and the other officers to work harder, and that he won’t sleep till the murderer is found. His wife Catherine, played by the talented Jennifer Ehle, is an attention seeking woman, and his absence has caused her to feel lonely and depress. Ehle delivers her best work to date, and scene where she sits in the living room with Joseph and tells of her loneliness while shedding tears is marvelous! Not only were the two the stars of the film, but so were the supporting team of Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe and 2-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep. Dafoe plays Joseph Friedman, a lonely minister who “lives” by every word of the Bible; except that he covets his neighbor Richard, and grows jealous of his perfect life. Dafoe is wonderful in this film, and the scene where he goes to his room and begins to pray for forgiveness after murdering Aaron will leave you speechless. Finally, there is Meryl Streep, an actress that we all adore and love. She plays Vivian, Catherine’s mother who lives with the family. She was the first to suspect Joseph, but no one believed her. The scene where she stares in dismay and quivers while seeing her daughter and Joseph having sex is just simply amazing, and the film star has once again done an outstanding job.
'Pine Terrace' is a clever and original work that’ll be a tour de force during the Oscar season. With an excellent but dark score by Thomas Newman, a well done dramatic screenplay by both George and Lonergan, fantastic editing by Jill Bilcock, clear cinematography by Edward Lachman, and a distinguish ensemble that’ll be remembered for a long, long time, 'Pine Terrace' is a film that’ll capture the heart of many audiences.
For Your Consideration
Best Picture – Drama
Best Director – Terry George
Best Actor in a Leading Role – John Cusack
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Jennifer Ehle
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Willem Dafoe
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Meryl Streep
Best Original Screenplay – Terry George & Kenneth Lonergan
Best Film Editing
Best Original Score